Estonian Air Force has long and fascinating history. The roots of the current
organization go back to the 21 November 1918 when the Commander of Engineering
Battalion Voldemar Victor Riiberg assigned August Roos to organize the flight
unit. The Independence War gave great impulses to the development of the young
Commander of Air Force
Brigadier General Valeri Saar, CV
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Air Force insignia
Estonian Air Force had more than 130 modern aircraft in the middle of 1930s.
The organization consisted then the Naval Aviation Group, Flight School, Air
Base, Air Defence Artillery Group. Estonian engineers designed and constructed
the fighter aircrafts, which were with outstanding performance.
Estonian Air Force was re-established at 16. December 1991. The main goals
were to gain the control over Estonian airspace and air defence of strategic
objects. The Air force consist of three units today; the Air Force Staff, the
Air Force Base, and the Air Surveillance Wing.
The Air Force has four main goals to accomplish for medium term;
|Air Surveillance has significant impact to the enhancement of the general flight safety.
- To establish an air surveillance capability, and based on that , to
begin the development of a national air defence system. To establish an air
defence command and control capability.
- To build up Ämari airfield as a prospective main NATO interoperable
airfield and part of host nation support in Estonia.
- To establish an Air Force communication and information system, which
is interoperable with relevant NATO Integrated Extended Air Defence System NATIENADS.
To develop a data exchange systems in the Air Force.
- To prepare a rotary wing component of the Air Force
The Air Force role in accomplishing the Defence Policy
The Estonian Air Force needs to reduce the political, military, economical,
social, environmental and psychological threats. The entire civilized world
experienced the reality of increased terrorist threats during the last year.
The Air Force has important role in enhancing flight safety in Estonian airspace.
One of the main goals of the Air Force is to build up an air surveillance system,
which will be the cornerstone of the air traffic safety and airspace control.
The second priority is the development of the Host Nation Support capabilities
for air operations with further implementation of crucial peacetime Air Defence
capability - Air Policing.
One important milestone will be the development of the air surveillance system
to the level, which allows close cooperation with the NATO air defence system.
The purpose of Ämari Air Base is to work together with NATO and partner
nations air forces and provide the standardized airfield and aircraft services
to provide the Host Nation Services.
In its nature, the Ämari airfield maintenance, aircraft support, air navigation
services and air traffic control need to be updated to the NATO standards to
provide high level of services and guarantee the required flight safety level.
The Estonian Air Force co-operation goals with NATO
Estonian Annual National Plan and partnership goals determine the most prioritized
co-operation areas for nearest years. The most important of them are;
· To establish air surveillance capability, and based on that, to begin
the development of a national air defence system. To establish an air defence
command and control capability
· Installation of identification systems, which are interoperable with
· The upgrade of navigation and communication equipment
· Establishing the required level for Ämari airfield operations
· To provide the aircraft ground services according the required international
For Air Surveillance system, the installation of new long-range primary radar
TPS-117 will help to reach qualitatively new level of operational capabilities.
After connecting the new radar to the network, the identification of all aircraft,
including those, which are not eagerly willing to co-operate with air traffic
navigation services, will be remarkably easier. It will be huge step towards
enhancement of air traffic safety and developing the international co-operation
in air surveillance field as well as meet the terms of the obligations taken
with international treaties.
The Air Force participation in the international exercises
Air Force personnel have been participating in numerous international exercises
since 1995. Estonian Air Force personnel has actively participated in Cooperative
Zenith, Cooperative Banners, Cooperative Automation, Strong Resolve, Cooperative
Support and MEDCEUR exercises. The Estonian Air Force participated with one
aircraft and with larger crew than usual on exercises Cooperative Bear 1999
in Poland and Baltic Link 2000.
|Estonian Air Force officers and NCO's are been participating on various international exercises. On other hand, Estonia hosted international exercise Baltic Challenge with more than three thousand participants on 1997. During this exercise, which was conducted to train humanitarian operations, involved the aeromedical fights and paratroop training in the Ämari Air Base.
There has been close co-operation with Denmark, Finland, Sweden and the US
Air Forces in recent years. Estonian Air Force has some form of co-operation
with twenty different countries. The supporting relations with different domestic
co-operation partners will give great assistance for the Air Force related education
and science. The most remarkable partners in Estonia in this field are Tartu
Aviation College and Tallinn Technical University.
The structure of the Estonian Air Force
The Estonian Air Force consists of three units; Air Force Headquarters, the
Ämari Air Base and Air Surveillance Wing. The Air Force Headquarters were
founded on 13. April 1994 as the highest Air Force Command and Control institution.
The main functions of Air Force Headquarter are:
- Constant enhancement and support of the combat readiness of the allocated
- The collection and analysis of current air security and intelligence
- The planning of operations, education and training
- The management of Air Force Command and Control as well as education
To guarantee a wide coverage of all necessary fields and the effective preparation
of the Air Force Commander's orders, Air Force Headquarter has six departments:
- Personnel department
- Department of Operations
- Logistics department
- Department of Finance
- Communication and IT Department
- Department of Administration
The Air Force Headquarter has the Air Force Command and Control Center included
to its structure. The Command and Control Center analyses the Air Force missions,
manages the airspace, plans and controls the air defence, air attack and air
transport flight operations.
|The host nation support functions involve large variety of the aviation related tasks. Ämari Air Base has new Air Traffic Control tower to conduct the air operations. The acquisition and installation of the new navigation aids and training the Air Traffic Controllers is ongoing process.
Estonian Air Force had more than 80 international co-operational events during
2000. The increase in international co-operation during the 2002 was more than
ten percent and the total number of events was more than 90. The most important
areas were air traffic management and air defence seminars and education courses.
Equally important were the events on command and control, language training,
logistics, military doctrine and education related seminars and courses. All
international co-operational events gave good results and helped to enhance
the Air Force interoperability in wide span of specialties.
There has been going on continuous co-operation with Baltic States within the
framework of BALTNET in the Air Surveillance area, which is the one of the highest
priority of Estonian Air Force. To educate the air surveillance operators more
effectively, the Baltic States combined air surveillance training center was
created. The first basic air surveillance course, aimed to the Lithuanian, Latvian
and Estonian air surveillance operators, started in April of 2002.
The Estonian Air Force has close co-operation with the Scandinavian Countries
to enhance the Ämari Air Base operational potential and to develop host
nation support capabilities. The most important factors, which determine the
international interoperability of Ämari Airfield, are: cargo handling capabilities,
airfield maintenance, search and rescue operation and ground support to the
aircraft. The closest partners in developing the host nation support capabilities
at the Ämari Airfield are Sweden and Denmark. These Scandinavian countries
are in the process of closing few airbases and as a result of this, spare airfield
and aircraft maintenance equipment become available.
To meet the high standardization requirements, the education and training programs
belong inevitably to the acquisition of any sophisticated equipment.
Air Surveillance Wing
The primary mission of the unit is the development of the national air surveillance
system to the level that allows to detect and identify all flying objects in
Estonian airspace with maximal probability and transmit information about their
location and movement with sufficient degree of accuracy on 24 hour basis. Current
operations are carried out mainly in the framework of international cooperation
and BALTNET project.
|One of the goals of the national air surveillance system is the detecting and identifying all flying objects in Estonian airspace.
The main mission of the Air Surveillance Wing, besides the operation of technical
systems, will be information processing and collection from radiolocational
surveillance systems, interceptor fighters during their patrol flights and from
other airspace surveillance sensors.
Structurally is air surveillance subsystem of air defence system.
Air Surveillance Wing was created on 1 January 1998 and is located at the Ämari
Active duty service members will receive the required training in the RASCC
training center in Republic of Lithuania and in their own unit. The training
consists of receiving basic knowledge of air surveillance plus skills and knowledge
to operate the ASOC.
Air Surveillance Wing is working closely together with Estonian Civil Air Navigation
Center (EANS). There is one military liaison workstation in civil air traffic
control center in Tallinn manned by the employees of Air Surveillance Wing Air
Sovereignty Operations Center, whose task is to exchange information between
the Air Sovereignty Operations Center and civil air traffic control.